Monday, April 28, 2008

A cubic mile of oil vs renewable energy

The world uses somewhat more than one cubic mile of oil (1 CMO) per year according to a study by Ripudaman Malhotra, at SRI International, as reported in “Can renewable energy make a dent in fossil fuels?” by Michael Kanellos found on Total energy consumption per year from all sources is about 3 CMOs.

To equal 1 CMO, we have to cover 4.2 billion rooftops with solar panels.
Or build 2,500 new 900-megawatt nuclear power plants (one per week for 50 years).
Or erect 3 million wind turbines (1,200 per week for 50 years).

And during those 50 years, the demand for power will continue to grow, especially in developing areas of the world. What this means is that we are going to be dependent on fossil fuels - oil, gas, coal - for a long time.

Here’s a chart from the article, courtesy of SRI International:

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